Dunstan, Peggy

Dunstan, Peggy

In Brief

Peggy Dunstan was a poet and an anthologist for adults and children. Her poetry collections of free verse were known for their strong personal content. She also anticipated themes found in the work of feminist poets of the late 1970s, in poems where the tensions between her domestic constraints and her aspirations as a writer were emphasized. Dunstan published two engaging childhood memoirs, A Fistful of Summer (1981) and The Other Side of Summer (1983). She also published several volumes of verse for children. Margaret (Peggy) Dunstan died aged 89.

FROM THE OXFORD COMPANION TO NEW ZEALAND LITERATURE

Dunstan, Peggy (1920–2010), is a poet and anthologist for children and adults. Patterns on Glass (1968) and A Particular Deep (1974) are collections of free verse poems of strong personal content, images of loss and entrapment recurring (‘Two Fathoms Under’, ‘Ship in a Bottle’). Some deal with urban or suburban subjects (‘Supermarket Special’, ‘City Construction’) in ways that relate her to Peter Bland, Louis Johnson and the ‘Wellington Group’. She also anticipated by nearly twenty years the main group of feminist poets of the late 1970s in poems on the tension between domestic constraints and her aspirations as a writer (‘With Intent’), as well as the sexual explicitness of poems like ‘Wet Summer Sunday’. She edited A Difference in Degree: An Anthology of Verse (1981) and was co-editor of Hyacinths and Biscuits (1985), the diamond jubilee prose and verse anthology of the Penwomen’s Club. Her verse for children includes Sunflowers and Sandcastles (1977), In and Out the Windows (1979) and Behind the Stars (1986). She also published two engaging memoirs of childhood, A Fistful of Summer (1981) and The Other Side of Summer (1983). Born in Christchurch, she was educated at Wellington East GC and served on several literary committees in Wellington. She lives in Auckland. RR

Updated January 2017.